Biochar is amongst the oldest forms of soil enhancer and conditioner, allowing a healthier and more productive plant growth. This form of soil enhancer like most of the charcoal based ones is made from biomass via the pyrolysis process wherein biomass is heated in a low oxygen environment. The biochar resulting from this process is a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal which is the best addition to the soil to help maintain its nutrients and water levels. It is a soil enhancer that holds carbon, boosts food security as also encourages soil biodiversity. Biochar can be used by simply spreading it on the agricultural fields, which then gets incorporated into the top layer of soil.
Biochar has a number of benefits. Here are a few of its advantages and application areas.
- Firstly the process of making Biochar itself helps in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The process ensures removal of carbon from the atmospheric carbon cycle when added as soil.
- It is an important tool for replenishment in areas with depleted soil levels and other scarce resources.
- It improves the water quality and quantity as it helps in retaining nutrients in the soil by restricting the amount of nutrients leaching into groundwater thereby causing pollution.
- Biochar helps increase the crop yields substantially by influencing the quality of soil in manifold ways.
- It also helps in reducing the soil acidity which is again important for plant growth.
- It reduces the necessity for excessive chemical fertilizers as it helps prevent fertilizer runoff and leeching.
- It helps in retaining the moisture thus helping plants through the drought periods.
- Biochar helps in replenishing the exhausted soils with organic carbon in turn promoting the growth of essential microbes in the soil that aid nutrient absorption.
- It is ideal for flowers, herbs, vegetables as well as hanging baskets apart from its other applications.
The latest use of Biochar is amongst ash tree roots wherein it helps prevent ash dieback diseases.
Biochar provides a simple and sustainable means to sequester historic carbon emissions. The syngas and excess heat can be used directly or indirectly to produce a variety of biofuels.